GENEVA, Switzerland, February 5, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM has handed over to the Djibouti Ministry of Equipment and Transport two patrol boats and lifesaving equipment, including life jackets, blankets, first aid kits, medicines, body bags and radio communication equipment.
The equipment will strengthen the capacity of the Djibouti Coast Guard to provide emergency lifesaving assistance to migrants and asylum seekers at risk in the Gulf of Aden and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.
This initiative is part of an IOM-managed project funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to assist Djibouti in building its capabilities for rescue at sea and border management. Other activities include the training of Djibouti Coast Guard officials in criminal data analysis, vessel handling and assistance to migrants at sea.
In addition, the project provides food and non-food emergency assistance to migrants, including stranded and intercepted migrants, victims of human trafficking, returnees and other vulnerable communities.
According to UNHCR, last year some 100,000 migrants and asylum seekers crossed the Gulf of Aden by small boats – over 50% more than the 53,382 migrants who crossed in 2010. A total of 5,355 irregular migrants were rescued at sea by the Djibouti Coast Guard last year.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Japanese Ambassador to Djibouti Nishioka Atsuki and IOM Djibouti Chief of Mission Bakary Doumbia called for active international cooperation to respond effectively to human smuggling and maritime piracy.